Monday, August 22, 2011

DIY Telepresence Robot - Part 6

Final Assembly

Once all the parts have been created, we just need to put everything together to finish the robot.  When we built the body frame in part 4 we did not permanently attach the vertical shaft to the H-foot in order to allow for cables.  It is now time to run those cables.  Carefully drill and smooth an oval shaped hole in the back of the support shaft about 8 inches from the top.  It is best to drill several adjacent holes using small drill bits, and then use increasingly larger bits until the holes merge into a single oval.  The oval should be large enough to comfortably pass a Type-A USB connector through.  This will be the where the cables exit the shaft on their way to the netbook.

Push the USB end of the Create USB to Robot Cable through the hole in the bottom of the H-foot and snake the cable up through the bottom of the shaft and out through the oval hole.  Now feed the newly created netbook power cord (up or down) through the vertical shaft and H-foot as well.  With both cables in place now we can connect the body frame.  Tap the vertical shaft all the way onto the H-foot being careful not to damage or bend any part of the frame.  It may be helpful to sand down the H-foot connector a little to ease this process.

Before attaching the body frame, turn the iRobot Create over and use the supplied wheel clamps to fasten the wheels in the retracted position.  Now turn it back over and  use the 1 1/4" long 6-32 mounting screws to attach the finished body frame to the iRobot Create.

Plug the DB-25 connector and the round Mini-DIN serial cable into the Create.  Neatly secure all the extra cabling and the AnyVolt3 in the Create cargo bay area using some electrical tape and/or twist ties.  The picture below shows what my cargo bay looks like.  (The gray coiled cable is just some extra unattached wire that I included for future use.  I also added some DC plug connectors to the AnyVolt3 to make it easier to disconnect the electrical system.)

Cargo Bay

Screw the Eagletron and notebook platform onto the bolt at the top of the shaft.  Then press the netbook onto the platform and make sure it is centered and securely fastened with the velcro.  Insert the power plug and the iRobot serial to USB cable to the netbook.  Attach a USB cable from the back of the Eagletron to the netbook.

Place the webcam on the top of the open netbook screen and fasten it with tape or velcro.  Plug the webcam's USB cable into the netbook.  The USB cables will bow out to the sides of the robot and may occasionally brush against walls and doors.  USB right angle adapters can be used to reduce the width of these cables.  Once everything is attached, use some wire management clips and ingenuity to secure the extra cabling.  The picture below shows what I managed to come up with, but I really didn't try that hard and I am sure others could vastly improve the appearance of their robot.

Rear cables

The last thing that needs to be done is to create of a docking station.  You should clear a small 4x4 area of all obstructions and floor clutter.  Secure the iRobot home base charger on the floor with some tape so the robot will not push it out of position.  Plug the charger base in and make sure the power cords are well out of the approach pathway.  To assist docking I fastened a cheap mirror behind the charge base so that I can better see the robot in relation to the wall and charger on approach.

Docking Station

The robot is complete.  Now we just need to install and configure the software.

Next--> Part 7: Software Install

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